St Matthew Island is a comic strip by the Australian cartoonist Stuart McMillen. Based on a true story, it describes what happened when 29 reindeer were introduced to the eponymous island in the Bering Sea in 1944. With an absence of predators and plenty of food, life was good for the animals and they bred rapidly. Until 1966, that is, when their population fell from around 6,000 to just 42. 'St Matthew Island has been one of the most enduringly popular comics that I have published', said McMillen when we contacted him. 'Something about the reindeer's plight spoke to me when I first learned about the story via the excellent book Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins.'
'I am glad that others are now learning this real life story through my comic; hundreds of thousands of readers since I published it in 2011. Beyond this website activity, several textbooks have illustrated the concept of biological overshoot with the comic helping to illustrate the St Matthew Island story.'
For more information about the incident, McMillen recommends an article on his website, which includes some of the nuances that came to his attention after the comic was published. You can view the original piece here, or by clicking the image.